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10 Reasons Why ‘Visit The Ross Sea’ Should Be On Your Bucketlist

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Ross Sea

Are you looking to find ‘off the beaten path Antarctica‘? Look no further than the remote and rarely visited Ross Sea region. The Ross Sea was named after Sir James Clark Ross who discovered the sea in 1841 and is home to abundant wildlife, the largest ice shelf in the world and is the closest open water to the South Pole.

*I have a business relationship with Oceanwide Expeditions and traveled onboard the M/V Ortelius sailing South to the Ross Sea and Antarctica as an independent press & media representative. All these opinions are my own, but trust me, the Ross Sea impressed far far more than it disappointed.

The Ross Sea is as remote as remote gets.

Shrouded in mystery and thick pack ice the Ross Sea is cut off from the world for majority of the year. In the short Antarctic summer the thick ice will finally give way, allowing access to the Earth’s most remote and pristine waters. Doesn’t get much more off the beaten path than this. The only thing around to bother you are the next culprit on the list.

Ross Sea, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, ice

Can’t beat these wide open vistas.

The wildlife.

The nutrient packed waters of the Ross Sea support a plethora of plankton which allow for its waters to be teaming with wildlife. 10 mammal species, 6 bird species, 95 species of fish and over 1,000 invertebrates are known to frequent the Ross Sea. Some of the stars of the Ross Sea wildlife scene include: Adelie & Emperor Penguins, Weddell, Leopard & Crabeater Seals, Skua, Antarctic & Snow Petrel, Antarctic Toothfish, and Killer & Antarctic Minke whales.

Ross Sea, Antarctica, Emperor penguin, penguin,

An Ice floe fit for an emperor… penguin, that is.

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest in the world.

Coming in at nearly the size of France the Ross Ice Shelf is 487,000 square kilometers of solid ice (188,000 square miles). The ice shelf covers a large portion of the southern reaches of the Ross Sea as well as all of Roosevelt Island.

Ross Ice Shelf, Ice Shelf, Ross Sea, Antarctica

The famed Ross Ice Shelf. Don’t let those mountains towering above convince you otherwise, IT’S MASSIVE!

As close to Mars as you can get.

Did you know Antarctica is home to one of the most inhospitable, extreme deserts on Earth? Welcome to the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Scientists consider the Dry Valleys to be the closest terrestrial environment to that which exists on Mars. Even weirder is the blood waterfall located on Taylor Glacier here in the Dry Valleys.

McMurdo Dry Valleys, Taylor Valley, Antarctica, Ross Sea, Oceanside Expeditions

Hovering above Taylor Glacier, in the southernmost of the three McMurdo Dry Valleys- Taylor Valley.

The History.

Follow in the footsteps of some of Antarctica’s most famous explorers. Borchgrevink, Scott and Shackleton all led expeditions in the Ross Sea. Cape Adare, Cape Evans, Hut Point and Cape Royds all house well preserved historic huts important to the legacy of exploration of the most remote continent.

Scott Hut, Cape Evans, Antarctica, Ross Sea

Inside of Scott Hut, Cape Evans.

Ice, Ice…. You know the rest.

Imagine waking up to a sea of pancake ice surrounding you and giant icebergs teaming with penguins and seals staring right back at you. This is an all-to-regular occurrence here.

Cape Adare, Icebergs, Iceberg, Antarctica, Borchgrevink, Ross Sea

zipping between giant icebergs by zodiac near Cape Adare.

The Pristine Nature.

Owing to its remote location, the Ross Sea is home to some of the cleanest waters and untouched, raw nature on Earth. Its even gained the nickname of ‘The Last Ocean’.

Adelie penguins, Weddell seal, penguin, penguins, Weddell seal and adelie penguins, Cape Adare, Ross Sea, Antarctica

Seals and Penguins, galore!

The Ross Sea is the world’s largest marine reserve.

In October 2016 an agreement was finally reached which will protect 1.5 million square kilometers (983,00 sq. miles) of the Ross Sea, that of which no fishing will be allowed in 1.1 million square kilometers of the marine reserve. Read more on the agreement here.

leopard seal, Antarctica, Ross Sea

And come face to face with giant leopard seals!

See Science Live in Action.

In the heart of McMurdo Sound sits McMurdo Station (US) and Scott Station (New Zealand). And nearby Terra Nova Bay is home to Gondwana Station (Germany), Jang Bogo Station (South Korea) and Mario Zuchelli Station (Italy). If you’re lucky enough to get clearance you can visit these stations and find out what the scientists down here do and get a peak into their super remote lives.

McMurdo Station, Ross Sea, Ross Island

Touring around McMurdo Station.

The world’s Southernmost active volcano.

It’s a land of fire and ice. Mt. Erebus has been active for roughly the last 1.3 million years. Erebus is located on Ross Island towering around its inactive neighbors- Mt. Terror, Mt. Bird and Mt. Terra Nova.

Mt. Erebus, Erebus, Antarctica, Ross Sea, McMurdo Sound

Mt Erebus towering over Emperor Penguins out on the ice.

Need any more convincing? 

If you’re ready for a once-in-a-lifetime style adventure and to meet some of the most interesting fellow travelers out there Antarctica, particularly the Ross Sea are the place for you. I have just returned from Oceanwide Expedition’s Spectacular Ross Sea Crossing. Check out the sailings they have coming up for next season, it’s never to early to start planning!

Franklin Island, Antartica, Ross Sea

Franklin Island.

Oceanwide Expeditions Antarctica Itinerary

Antarctica Itinerary with Oceanwide Expeditions.

As you already know if you follow along here regularly, I’ve just gotten to Sydney today. In one week I’ll be packing up again and heading off to Auckland to road trip around New Zealand for a couple of weeks making my way down to the far south to catch the ship in Bluff, NZ to Antarctica.

Today I’m going to give you an outline of what all is on the Antarctica Itinerary for my upcoming cruise with Oceanwide Expeditions.

*I have a business relationship with Oceanwide Expeditions and will travel onboard the M/V Ortelius sailing South to the Ross Sea and Antarctica as an independent press & media representative. Follow my travel blog as I visit the Ross Sea & Antarctica.

Antarctica Itinerary:

Day 1: Embark in Bluff, NZ. (Feb 15)

Hop on the expedition shop, the Ortelius M/V in the later afternoon.

Day 2: A day at sea. (Feb. 16)

Making way to Campbell Island.

Day 3: Campbell Island. (Feb. 17)

Campbell Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is part of NZ. Known for it’s flora & fauna as well as its Southern Albatross. Eastern Rockhopper, Erect-Crested and Yellow-Eyed Penguins all breed on the island and populations of Elephant Seals, Fur Seals and Sea Lions have made recoveries after being hunted to near extinction.

Day 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: 5 days at sea. (Feb. 18-22)

These days will be spent sailing towards the entrance to the Ross Sea. Weather dependent, there will be a stop at Scott Island should the seas and skies behave. There are naturalist lectures, photography workshops and more on these expedition cruises, so I’m hoping to get in on some of these while cast away at sea here..

Day 9: Cape Adare. (Feb. 23)

Here we hope to see a colony of moulting Adelie Penguins that live around the Borchgrevink Hut.

Day 10, 11: Ross Sea. (feb. 24-25)

Here we will continue to sail south through the Ross Sea. Depending on weather, sea and ice conditions stops will be attempted at Cape Hallet, Terra Nova Bay, The Drygalski Tongue and The Mario Zucchelli Station.

Day 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: 5 Days in the Ross Sea. (Feb. 16-Mar. 1).

Hopefully if weather allows we will make a stop at Ross Island where you stand below the towering Mount Erebus, Mount Terror and Mount Byrd. There are also intended stops at Cape Evans, McMurdo & Scott Bases, to hike Castle Rock, and to hike Taylor & McMurdo Dry Valleys.

Day 17: Sailing the Ross Ice Shelf. (Mar. 2)

We’ll continue east along the world’s biggest ice shelf.

Day 18: Helicopter landing on Ross Ice Shelf. (Mar. 3).

If conditions allow for it we’ll try to land on the Ice Shelf to explore it.

Day 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24: 6 Days Sailing along the Amundsen Sea. (Mar. 4-9).

Along here we’ll be sailing along the ice and on the look out for Emperor Penguins, as well as all eyes on the sea looking for Minke Whales, Orcas, and Fulmarine Petrels.

Day 25: Peter I Island. (Mar. 10).

If weather behaves a helicopter landing here is in order. This rarely visited island is claimed by Norway and is located in the Bellingshausen Sea. The island is volcanic and completely uninhabited.

Day 26-27: Sailing the Bellingshausen Sea. (Mar. 11-12).

Sailing along the sea looking out for wildlife.

Day 28-29 The Antarctic Peninsula. (Mar 13-14).

This will be the first time we’ll technically be able to set foot on the 7th continent. Planned stops are Detail Island, Fish Islands, Prospect Point, Pléneau Island, Peterman Island.  We will also get to head through the famous Lemaire Channel and toward Drake Passage. On and along the Antarctica Peninsula we hope to see Adélie Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags, fur seals may, Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls and South Polar Skuas.

Day 30-31: Drake Passage (Mar. 15-16).

We’ll be sailing along the Drake Passage looking out for wildlife and making way toward Ushuaia.

Day 32: Ushuaia (Mar. 17).

The morning of 3/17 I’ll finally step off the ship for good in Argentina’s southernmost city in Tierra Del Fuego.

This is just one of the many expeditions offered by Oceanwide Expeditions.

Visit their website here to start planning. They also do sailings to other parts of Antarctica, The Falklands, South Georgia Island as well as to the Arctic!